Zenaket

Hawk_the_paladin.jpgQuick Scroll: Symbol Worship Advocates Deity Plane

CG Greater Deity

Aliases: The Stalwart Angel, Peace and Wrath, Farmer of Redemption, The Warrior Born, The Two-Faced Sun (derogatory, used to curse him and his church)

Portfolio: Forgiveness, Kindness, Mercy, Redemption, Purification

Favored Weapon: long sword

Domains: Chaos, Glory, Healing, Sun, War

Tenets: working

Divine Symbol

Zenaket’s holy symbol is a copper long sword pointing downwards and lying on a copper shield, a yellow sapphire is placed either on the top right of the shield (denoting a clerical advocate) or the top left of the shield (denoting a paladin advocate). Higher ranking leaders may have up to three other sapphires set into their symbol.

At the bottom of the shield underneath the blade a sapphire may be placed. This location indicates an advocate who has participated in an acknowledged war or major battle sanctioned by Zenaket. A second stone may be found at the end of the hilt, a rare occurrence, representing an advocate that has spared the life of a worthy opponent and converted him or her into the Zenaket faith.

The final stone, which is placed between the blade and hilt, signifies the recognized mortal leader of Zenaket. This person is actually selected by Zenaket. Whenever a new leader is required, the highest ranking advocates place their holy symbols upon a sacred pedestal, the Altar of Truth. A ritual is performed that calls down a holy beam of light. At the conclusion of the ritual, one of the symbols is blessed with a sapphire indicating a new leader of the Zenites.

Two important notes, although clerics are allowed to participate in this ritual, Zenaket has never selected one as his leader (mainly because of his clerics’ general ideology conflicting with being the central leaders). Lastly, any attempt to fashion a gemstone into this slot causes the stone to disintegrate.

Worship (often)

Zenites, the name for followers of Zenaket, are highly congregated throughout the human kingdom of Kossuth and its commonwealth. In fact, its lands are ruled by Zenites. Currently the most powerful kingdom in existence, Kossuth exerts its will through laws designed to keep the peace and promote order.

Laws are based on two key concepts, might and mercy. Zenites believe a strict hand should be used to dissuade evildoers from their vices. Zenites are not completely hard people. They do have a soft side. Wrath and justice must be met equally with mercy and compassion. A sense of punish the wicked and protect the meek permeates throughout all cities under the care of this religious group.

It is common for Zenites to wear armor and carry weapons. Self-defense is fully embraced, though fights rarely occur. Laws are rigid and fines are hefty. This causes the society to be overwhelmingly polite to a point few outsiders could bear.

On the other hand, Zenite punishments are also known for being relatively lenient. “It is useless,” say the Zenites, “to merely seek revenge for a wrong. Revenge must grant restitution in some manner.” Community service is common, and Zenite jails are aimed at rehabilitation not isolation. This bizarre juxtaposition is one of many ways that the clergy of Zenaket are at war with themselves.

Only a few churches exist. They are not used for worship. There purpose is solely administrative. Instead of worshipping in churches or at altars, followers recite prayers at their bedside, once in the morning for a day filled with peace and once at night for thanks of survival.

Advocates, Direct Followers, and Minions

common: dwarf, human, sobekite (paladin)
uncommon: duergar (paladin)
rare: kel (paladin)

All elohim have paladin followers but nothing to the extent of Zenaket. For every paladin not devoted to Zenaket there are twenty who are. With so many paladins you might think Zenaket would be lacking in priest followers. This is not the case. There are an equal number of priests as paladins. Many find it difficult to tell priests and paladins apart since both are dressed in battle attire and one would find difficultly by simple appearance. The trick is to greet the disciple. Priests and paladins differ in their formal greeting. A priest will reply with, “Warmth blessed the hand.” And a paladin will reply with, “May the day’s blade show mercy.”

Anyone who lives in a Zenite society quickly realizes the reasons for these sayings. The psyches of Zenite clerics and paladins are almost diametrically opposed when it comes to politics, due to following two different views of their deity. Clerics strive to embody forgiveness and mercy, while paladins labor toward redemption and purification. These distinct differences translate into vastly different ethos causing conflict.

With the lack of churches, advocates spend their days traveling to mend the wounded, enact punishments, or reinforce military positions. Aside from the common morning and night prayers, these followers pray at the bedside of the ill and before battle. Zenites are vocal clergy. Battle cries are commonplace in battle. The most well-known is the March of Elendross, a sober chant of monotone notes used during a slow paced advance.

In peaceful times, paladins spend most of their time holding jousting contests and friendly competitions of battle to keep their fighting skills honed for the time that war does return. The competitions end with a dance and feast. Contest are common, rarely will a week pass without a tournament somewhere in the kingdom. Clerics are far less organized. They are largely left up to their own initiative during peace, usually running hospitals or acting as traveling medics.

Zenaket is the mortal enemy of Rai. Vengeance, destruction, and genocide are the diametric opposites of what Zenaket stands for. Zenites hold the same regard for his minions as they do for Rai himself. They endlessly pursue and snuff out any of his unholy believers. Kel, being the most prolific followers of Rai, are seem to be endlessly at war with Kossuth. Yet even as the Zenites hold disdain and outright hostility toward kel, they do realize that some of these humanoids are not held by Rai’s influence. In fact one of the Seven is a kel paladin. His name is Kor Carth.

Indeed, he’s also an example of what happens when the clerics and paladins of the Stalwart Angel work together. A paladin having been convinced by Zenaket clerics to spare Kor’s parents, once mighty champions of Rai, provided the catalyst for their reform and eventually an offspring who embraces both ideologies. His current agenda is finding some way for the two branches of the Zenites to reconcile, much to the fury of many staunch traditionalists.

Zenaket grants his followers strength to battle darkness and power to heal wounds as seen through both his paladin and cleric advocates. But to gain these powers they must follow a strict set of tenants: kindness, compassion, mercy, truth, justice, and vengeance. Although all advocates of Zenaket follow these tenants, some are more dominate than others via class. Clerics tend to promote peace. They often work through emissaries to stop engagements from becoming full blown wars. Many of them believe that paladins are too strict in their interpretations of Zenaket’s will. Likewise, many paladins view the clerics as too permissive and too forgiving to be truly effective. Still wishing peace however, the paladins pursue it by ensuring wars are as quick and efficient as possible as to minimize suffering.

Although the clerics and paladins of Zenaket have many differences there is one belief that both hold dear in their hearts, sacrifice for the greater good. Martyrdom is considered the greatest gift a Zenite can offer and is viewed as the highest honor…but only if the death has a purpose. Zenites do not seek their deaths, even though they do not fear it.

Low ranking paladins and clerics have many responsibilities, aside from the tenants of their faith. They are required to run errands and messages, help out in trouble areas of the kingdom, serve in the military, or may even act as emissaries to foreign countries. Mid-level paladins generally serve as administrators and governors desiring order as a method of protecting their charges.

The laws, judgments, and enforcements of this system are ultimately ruled by The Seven: four paladins (LG) and three clerics (CG). Strife between the two factions is unfortunately commonplace, especially with Kor’s attempted reforms. They remaining six are composed of 2 human paladins, 1 sobekite paladin, 1 dwarven cleric, and 2 human clerics.

The Seven rule from Viroqua, capital city of Kossuth, the strongest country on Thepa. Viroqua, known as the city of silver and gold, would probably lead an even stronger nation were it not for the priesthood’s bitterness toward itself. This aspect is one of the reasons why Kor desires reforms, to help cement the order of Viroqua instead of the bitter inter-clergy rivalry.

Kossuth controls four other countries, each with a major church erected in their capital city to provide a presence for the Zenite rulership. The churches are run by high ranking paladins that report back to the main church in Viroqua. Their duty is to quell uprisings, keep the peace, and enlist soldiers when war is upon the kingdom. Doves are frequently used as messengers.

As a final note and as a rare occurrence, an advocate will be broken by the cruelty and callousness Thepa and its people are capable of, resulting in a rather infamous strain of madness. He comes to view everyone as either sinners in need of redemption or monsters in need of death as so he turns maniacal and calm, rational and crazed. Zenites who succumb to this fanatical paranoia are said to be a “Desert Sun” for the raw heat of anger, hate of evilness, and the wastelands they reduce the nearby landscape to if given the chance. Thankfully, a Desert Sun tends to not last long when discovered. Only the most suicidal of beings thinks an alliance with such a being is a good idea. As such, even the clergy of opposing deities hang up their enmity to deal with this unpredictable madman.

Zenaket.jpgZenaket

Zenaket usually appears as a paragon of the angelic form, of indefinite apparent race. He has the frame of a human, the stoutness of a dwarf, and the delicate features of an elf. He is extremely tall, nearly ten feet; and has silver hair – the same color as his skin and great wings. Apart from his distinctive bracelet and the magnificent weapons (ex. Peace and Wrath) its charms become when he pulls them off, he is not particularly ostentatious, dressing in the simple clothing of commoners.

The longsword he most commonly wields is known as Wrath and is covered in golden flames, similar to the color of his eyes. A day has never passed that Peace, his shield that shines like the sun off white sands, does not accompany his golden flamed companion.

Zenaket is known for his beneficence toward his followers. He has a deserved reputation as being fair and just among the people of Thepa. He believes that ultimately all kindness has its basis in the heart and mind, yet without stiff and strict guidance for the emotions those two produce, true kindness is impossible.

This favorable view is not shared by the other elohim since Zenaket is known as The Warrior Born, which in all fairness, he is. He also sees his role as that of a general and commander in the war on cruelty and evil. And like all generals, he is out to win the war. He does not open negotiations. He only accepts them if the other side relents. He will do anything to ensure the evil of the daevas (especially Rai’s) is contained. He is even willing to sacrifice a few of his pieces in this never ending, strategic game.

Zenaket, like his nemesis Rai, will manifest on Thepa through possession, entering a living vessel primarily to counteract a move by Rai. Though unlike Rai, he does not hollow out his host. Zenaket’s spirit is symbiotic, guiding, and empowering to his vessel as an advisor rather than as a thief.

Shangri-la

From above, Shangri-la looks like a circle with a blue ocean and five continents that gradually rotate on the surface. From the side, it is seen to be flat, with the contentment and ocean above, and a crystalline region below. On the continents, misty mountains and valleys extend as far as the eye can see. If a ship headed to the east-most edge of the flat plane, it would appear on the western-most edge next. The same applies to the north and south, so the plane is self-contained if not round.

Azata are the primary angels of this heaven but before their presence, the towns and villages always had one or two families to help travelers. After the azatas arrival, they took over the petitioners responsibilities: keeping the towns and villages pleasant for travelers, encouraging them to find other villages, and spreading goodness.

Seasons do not occur, but areas on the different continents can be warmer or colder than others. This has resulted in an interesting planar economy, based on export of excess goods. Isolated towns and villages exist throughout the realm and are places where random acts of kindness are performed, songs are sung, and life is generally pleasant.

However, despite the pleasantness of the plane, petitioners desire more – to do more kindness, to experience more happiness and freedom – hence being part of the Realm of Transience. Eventually, these petitioners realize the pointlessness of physical good in a paradise and learn to focus on esoteric matters.

On a flying island, near the center of the realm, is a cottage where Zenaket lives. When the moons of Xanadu and Paradise become full, and the planet of Elysium lies between them, he opens a gate and sends all worthy souls on to the Realms of Purity. Less worthy souls reincarnate on Thepa, though they end up having a slight urge to do good and spread freedom in the world.

First Artwork Provided by Mates Laurentiu
Second Artwork provided by Joseph Garcia
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